Skyline 2011 – How was it for you?

A converted xc rider gives an overview of the 2010/2011 mountain bike season at the Skyline, Queenstown. Skyline Enterprises this year currently host the only gondola assisted bike lift in NZ. Single purpose downhill trails in the Ben Lomond Forest are now accessible for anyone to give mountain biking a go. So, was it good for YOU? Whether you usually hit the trails at 7 mile or shuttle the Wynyard Express, the chances are you have been doing some riding at the Skyline Gondola. With the season running from January to May you can certainly get some bang for your buck. Along with no longer having to pedal or push your bike up the Skyline access road, the maintenance and patrolling of the Ben Lomond Forest bike trails and the addition of the easier and sweet flowing Hammy’s trail have hugely changed the Queenstown biking scene. Anyone visiting the Skyline can hire a bike and gear on the spur of the moment at the Vertigo shop at the top for a roll down the green Hammy’s trail. At the other extreme, the introduction of the Outside Sports Super D Enduro and Corona Dirtmasters Downhill to the inaugral Queenstown Bike Festival gives riders at the top of their game something to sink their teeth into. So how did riders enjoy the season of gondola assisted mountain biking? I asked a couple of riders to find out what they thought: Ryan Black, season pass holder:

Which type of riding are you most into? “All types! Don’t make me choose!!” Which trails would you be riding if you weren’t riding at the Gondola? “7 mile, skippers (ride in and out) Wanaka, Alex, and probably a bit more time on the road bike.” Best things about the gondola? “Being able to get DH style runs in without a vehicle, not to mention having a great view and being in the center of town. But the best thing about it would be meeting new, like-minded people on the trails.” Worst thing about the gondola? “That it’s closing on May 29th (insert sad face here).” Favourite trail? “See question about the bikes above! There are so many good trails, and heaps of ways to link them together, so you never have to ride the same trail top to bottom in a day’s riding! Credit to the team at phatlines for building an excellent beginners trail! Big ups to Skyline for investing in the future of our sports future in Queenstown.”

Christian Mueli, season pass holder:

Which type of riding are you most into? “DH” Which trails would you be riding if you weren’t riding at the Gondola? “7 mile or Wynyard” Best things about the gondola? “You get to ride down all day. No 45 min push up and then 1 run down.” Worst thing about the gondola? “I suppose the only bad thing is when you have to wait at dinner time, but it’s not a problem really.” Favourite trail? “Hard question. Everything is so good - probably Ant’s track or Armageddon or Drop Garden. All the steep stuff!” Following your injury this season do you have any concerns or comments about safety at the skyline? “As far as safety it’s pretty close to med centre as long as someone can dial 111.”

Surely it’s a positive for Queenstown? I know that I personally have singlehandedly increased sales in protective gear, brake pads and rotors in the south island! With bike rentals, gear rentals, more people thrashing their bikes and themselves, how has this changed the local bike industry? Ryan Black, also the bike department manager at Element gives us an idea; “Definitely more repair work on downhill bikes, and more of a swing in sales to bigger/longer travel bikes”. When asked about the future of the bike retail industry he comments “It has a massive draw card to people from around NZ and the world. People are drawn to the easiest way to the top, and with the gondola being the only lift assisted runs in NZ, it is only going to increase the bike related visitors to an already great MTB destination. This is only going to expose the local bike industry to more people, and hopefully get more people in the sport!” On top of all this fruity goodness we have just had the first Queenstown Bike Festival courtesy of Southern Traverse; including the Corona Dirtmasters Downhill, Outside Sports Super D Enduro, the New World Tour de Wakatipu, R&R Sport night ride, Pedallers coffee and road rides, special offers from local bike guides vertigo and Fat Tyre as well as movies and plenty of after parties in case your season ended early with a high speed collision with a stationery object (e.g. the ground). So my advice to you is that even if you think that gondola assisted riding is just for hard core downhillers, sort yourself out with some protective gear, grab a pass and give it a go. You can even buy a pass for the month of May for unlimited riding for a cheap as chips $199.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *